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NMS Painted Pumpkins To Replace Scarecrow Contest This Year



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A Painted Pumpkin Patch event is set to replace the annual Newtown Middle School Eighth Grade Scarecrow Contest this year, due to the pandemic.

Each year, NMS eighth grade students are challenged to work in groups to create a larger-than-life-scarecrows that can withstand Mother Nature. Those creations are then put on display on the school’s front lawn so residents can cast a vote, for $1 per vote, for their favorite scarecrow. The money raised has traditionally been given to charities chosen by the top three winning groups.

NMS art teachers Leigh Anne Coles and Kris Ladue oversaw a Google Meet on October 7 to share the plans for this year’s challenge, which will be put on display for the community as in previous years.

“[Ladue] and I felt that having some semblance of our beloved annual scarecrow event was particularly important this year,” Coles said in an e-mail after the meeting. “This school year has brought on some unique challenges and hurdles for both students and staff; and we wanted to provide an outlet for our students to get creative and have fun. It took us a while to figure out how to have the event and still function safely within all of the parameters, and we feel that the Painted Pumpkin Patch event does just that.”

The event is mandatory for eighth grade Art Enrichment students and it is open for participation by the whole student body. Students who participate will earn community service hours.

During the meeting, students learned they should not include guts, gore, or violent imagery in the design of their pumpkins.

The art teachers encouraged the students to get creative, crafty, and resourceful with their designs. The students were challenged to limit spending to $30, though that is not mandatory.

The pumpkins will be on display for community voting Saturday, October 24, and Sunday, October 25, from 9 am to 5 pm both days.

In place of having the top three winning groups donate the voting earnings to charities of their choice, Coles explained, “[Ladue] and I felt it was important to have all of the proceeds donated to a local group that was in need of financial aid related to COVID.

“We are excited to share that we are in the process of working with Senator Tony Hwang to set up a way to collect donations for our Painted Pumpkin Patch event on a digital platform (so we don’t have to exchange cash). We will have more updates on this at a later date once we firm up some of the other details,” Coles wrote.

Voting will also be different this year: There will be no printed ballots, which in past years have been available in The Newtown Bee and at the school.

“Voting for the event will look a little different this year, because it is vital that we (the school/students/us and the greater Newtown community) adhere to all CDC-recommended safety and health guidelines while the event takes place,” wrote Coles. “Students will have assigned locations on the front lawn this year so we can ensure proper social distancing for installation and viewing. Voting will take place digitally this year. QR codes will be posted throughout the event for individuals to scan, which will bring them to a ballot form to fill out on Google Forms.”

Donations will also be collected digitally this year.

Last year the Eighth Grade Scarecrow Contest raised $2,857 for local charities. The top three winning scarecrows were No. 14 Electric Guitar by Howard Schuster, Evan Chaudhary, and Zosia Teraszkiewicz in first place; No. 27 Minecraft Chicken by Grant Ricks and Johnny Kwap in second place; and No. 5 Seeds of Hope by Paige Tarpey, Lauren Milgram, Maddie Roe, and Emma Formica in third place.

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